Xenophobia, Anti-Migrant Politics, and Workers’ Movements

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:30-10:20
RC44 Labor Movements (host committee)

Language: French and English

Recent years have seen an upsurge of anti-migrant sentiment and xenophobia in many parts of the world, perhaps most notably Europe, the United States, and South Africa.  These ideologies, particularly strong in native working class communities, construct migrants as sources of terror and/or crime, competition for jobs, and as a drain on state-provided social welfare benefits.  This framing is integral to right-wing populism and echoes longstanding negative views of ethnic and racial minorities.   Indeed in many contexts it racializes migrants, constructing them as “others” vis-à-vis native populations.

This session will examine the consequences of the growing anti-migrant backlash around the world for labor movements and worker organizing.  We are particularly interested in papers that explore the ways in which labor colludes in or challenges  racial/ethnic othering.  

We welcome cases from all regions and countries.

Themes could include (but are not limited to):

  • Mobilization of workers in anti-migrant populist movements
  • Impacts on trade union attempts to recruit and represent migrants, and to promote worker solidarity across nationalities
  • Salience and power of migrant identity in labor mobilizing
  • How xenophobic ideologies affect, and are affected by, transnational labor solidarity
  • Intersectional elements of these phenomena (i.e. the intersections of migrant status with gender, religion, and other characteristics)
Session Organizers:
Ruth MILKMAN, CUNY Graduate Center, USA and Chris TILLY, University of California Los Angeles, USA
Ruth MILKMAN, CUNY Graduate Center, USA
Oral Presentations
United in Uncertainty: British Trade Unions (and other interest groups)’ Response to Migration in the Context of Brexit
Gabriella ALBERTI, University of Leeds, United Kingdom; Jo CUTTER, University of Leeds, United Kingdom; Zinovijus CIUPIJUS, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
No Tyson in Tongie! Race, Class, and the Fight for Quality of Life in Kansas
Daniel ALVORD, University of Kansas, USA; Cecilia MENJIVAR, University of Kansas, USA; Walter NICHOLLS, University of California, Irvine, USA
Distributed Papers
Exclusive Nationalism from below in Post-Apartheid South Africa
Marcel PARET, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
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